Project information

Serving the Servants

Part of our work is supporting people involved in serving others in deprived areas in inner-city Manchester. They work hard, often sacrificially in terms of finance and health. We would like to raise a bursary fund to offer some of them short retreat breaks at a residential library in North Wales.

12 months

Charity information: Urban Presence

Urban Presence logo
  • Need


    Fatigue and stress through overwork in committed people (such as clergy, youthworkers, charity workers) working in churches, charities and other organisations who seek to serve and help people in areas of multiple deprivation, or in situations of extreme need, can lead to health, relationship and marital problems and ultimately burnout. Often a combination of workload, the sheer size of the needs they are seeking to meet and lack of finance means they do not take sufficient constructive breaks.


    As an extension of our existing 'Refurb' project, which provides occasional get-togethers and a meal for such workers and activists, where they can take some time out and meet up and encourage and support one another, we believe for some an additional benefit can be gained by having a few days away from their context to recharge their batteries. Our hope is that this will re-energise them, enable reflection on their work, and ultimately given them the resources to keep going and avoid burnout.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To enable workers in inner-city areas to have a short reflective retreat away from the work context


    » (Existing) "Refurb" an occasional get-together for inner-city workers over a meal.
    » (Projected) Short reflective retreats at a residential library, with or without support from an Urban Presence worker or other suitable person.

    What success will look like

    Individuals returning to their work and context with fresh energy, ideas and able to implement a better work/rest balance, based on a time of rest and reflection on their praxis.

  • Impact


    More workers able to stay long-term in situations of need/deprivation, and so building understanding, trust and relationships with people over time, which will in turn improve their ability to serve, help and empower. Often in these areas the turnover of workers is high, mitigating against these factors which are crucial in enabling people to believe in themselves and be a part of the solution to their own issues. As for showing success, can you come back in 10 years? Some things require time.


    A risk that a worker could decide during his time of rest and reflection that he will get another job! (However that could be a positive outcome that saves his health or marriage)
    A risk that when the worker returns to his context he just reverts back to overdoing it as before, as the pressures there re-exert themselves.
    There is a probable greater risk in the worker NOT taking the break.


    We would report on individuals who have taken up the offer of a break. We would also ask each person who goes on a retreat to write a short report about its outcomes. These could be made available to donors anonymously.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £4,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £1,500 3 day Retreat 10x 3 day stays at The Gladstone Library @£50 dbb
      £1,000 2 day Retreat 10x 2 day stays at The Gladstone Library @£50 dbb
      £500 administration Urban Presence worker time arranging, liaising, and
      £1,000 support Urban Presence worker time in optional sessional work with individuals taking the retreats
  • Background


    The Gladstone Library, Hawarden, North Wales is a unique residential library, known for providing a restful atmosphere for retreat and personal study, and able to offer sensitive support if required through a residential chaplain. We have the support of the Library Warden for the project.


    Directly, workers in churches, charities and organsations in inner-city areas of Manchester. that we in Urban Presence have got to know and work alongside in a supportive capacity. Indirectly, the people they seek to serve.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    As a charity which itself seeks to "serve the servants" we have got to know many incredible committed people who work hard serving others. We also have a relationship with The Gladstone Library and our workers have themselves benefitted from short stays there. We are ideally placed to recommend one to the other, but for some the financial cost is too much.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Derek Purnell

    Co-founder and activist. Over 35 years experience living and working in inner-city Manchester.

    Paul Keeble

    Co-founder and activist. Over 30 years experience living and working in inner-city Manchester.